Though usually written 'Cefn-tilla' it should more correctly be 'Cefn-tyle', meaning 'the ridge of the ascent': a name which, though hardly descriptive of the actual situation of the house, might well be applied to the steep bank adjoining. This place is known in history as the head-quarters of General Sir Thomas Fairfax during the latter part of the siege of Raglan Castle. It was then the seat of Roger Oates (There is no record as to the owner of Cefn-tilla before Roger Oates, but by the arms in the hall it would appear to have belonged, in 1616, to one of the Herbert famly) who came into Wales with Theophilus Field: appointed bishop of Llandaff in 1619 and of St. David's in 1627, and made deputy-registrar of the archdeaconry of Brecon. Of Roger Oates there is not much account but by placing his house at the disposal of General Fairfax (unless the latter took it by force)it may be gathered that, in spite of his office under the bishop, he was a Roundhead. He married the daughter of Edward Kemeys of Kemeys, but from whom he purchased Cefn-tilla does not appear. His will was proved in 1667 (P.C.C., Carr, 75) as Roger Oates of Keventilly.
"Whereas I do make a scrip that I did wrong a gentleman, etc., and did at my wife's funeral distribute 11 l. towards satisfaction thereof, I now give the sum of 11 l. more -- my 3 granddaughters Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth Otes -- John Price, esq., of Brecon and my brother Edward Kemeys of Bertholey -- my son Roger Otes ex'or."
Roger, son of the above Roger, was a considerable purchaser of lands, as appears by his will, in which he is called Roger Otes of Keventilla, esq., proved 1706 (P.C.C., Eedes, 241)
"To be buried in Llandenny church -- lands in Shirenewton, mortgaged to my father by Edward Kemeys late of Bertholey, deceased, being of the value of 5 l. per annum, to my brother-in-law Charles Hughes of Trostry, esq., and Richard Hughes of Brecon, esq. on trust, the rents to be for the poor of Llandenny and Llansoy for ever -- freeholds which I have purchased from Phillip Nicholas and his son; Robert Gunter, esq.; Charles Morris and his mother; Meredith Price and his wife; Walter Harries; and William Prichard, in Llansoy, Llandenny, and Gwernesney, also lands purchased by me from the widow Howells and her daughter, and David Lewis, gent., deceased; William Blethin, gent., deceased, and Temperance his wife; my brother-in-law Henry Lewis; Edward Morgan; Edward Rumsey and Bridget his mother, in Caerwent, Caldicot, Llamenlin, Crick, Usk, and Gwehelog, to my son Roger Otes, in default to my grandson Roger Jones, in default to my grandchildren Thomas Jones and Rachel Jones -- other lands to my dau. Rachel, wife of George Kemeys of Kemeys, gent., in default to my grandson Thomas Jones, I default to my grandson Roger Jones, in default to my dranddau. Rachel Jones -- to my dau. Elizabeth Otes 50 l. -- to my day. Rachel Kemeys 50 l. -- to Mr Robert Davies of Clytha 20 l.-- to Ann Probert, relict of Richard Probert of Gwehelog, 10 l."
All the children of Roger Oates died without issue (note: Though the family of Oates died out at Cefn-tilla the name survived in a branch, perhaps illegitimate. Roger Oates of Machen, victualler, by his will dated 10 April, 1762, proved at Llandaff 9 September, 1762, by Joan his widow, left 40 l. to bind his son Abraham apprentice) except Margaret, who married Edward Jones of Buckland in Breconshire, whose father Edmund Jones was a man of some distinction. Edmund Jones was a Monmouthshire man, the son of John Jones of Llandenny, who, after taking his degree at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1636, was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1641. He obtained Buckland by his marriage with the daughter and heir of Edward games, and living through the troubled times of the civil wars, he managed to keep always on the the right side: first as a commissioner of array for king Charles I, then as a supporter of the parliament, and finally as a royalist shortly before the restoration of king Charles II. By 1645 he had left the king and declared for the Roundheads but did not escape without penalty, for in 1646 he paid a fine of 70 l. 6x., 8d. for his delinquency. He became a personal friend of Oliver Cromwell, was made recorder of Brecon (1650), attorney-general for South Wales (1653), and in 1654 was returned as member of parliament for Breconshire. By 1659, foreseeing the trend of events, he was found to be on friendly terms with those who were negotiating for the King's return, and on 12 February of that year was deprived of his seat in the House of Commons for being in arms against the parliament. With the return of the King he was in power again, and in 1660 was made recorder of Carmarthen. He died in 1682 and a marble monument in Llansantffraid church records the fact that "that which advanced him most was his true piety and virtue." (nb. History of Brecknockshire, by Theophilus Jones, vol, ii., p 533, and Parliamentary History of Wales, by Williams, p. 16). By his will, dated 11 March, 1682, proved (P.C.C., Drax, 141) 1683, he left 5 l. a year charged on lands for the poor of Raglan and Llandenny.
His son, Edward Jones, who married Miss Oates and thereby obtained Cefn-tilla, was also member of parliament for Breconshire, and by his will left 20 l. to the poor of Raglan. Though he had several sons they all died without issue, the eldest, Roger, being member of parliament for Brecon from 1713 to 1722. Eleanor, the widow of Roger Jones, had all her husband's property settled on her, and married for her second husband Sir John Pryce of Newtown in Montgomeryshire. She sold Cefn-tilla to a Captain Evers who, about the year 1800, sold it to Philip Lloyd. In 1856 it was the property of the late Mr Crawshay Bailey, M.P. In that year, the estate, comprising some 300 acres, was purchased by public subscription and presented to the second Lord Raglan, as a testimonial of his father's long services to the nation and army.
Lord FitzRoy Somerset (afterwards lord Raglan) was the youngest son of Henry, fifth Duke of Beaufort, and was born at Badminton in 1788. He first saw service as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington in Portugal in 1808, and served with the Duke continuously throughout the Peninsular War till its close. At the Battle of Waterloo his right elbow was struck by a shot and his arm had to be amputated. He was, afterwards, aide-de-camp to the Prince Regent, secretary to the Duke of Wellington when master-general of the ordnance, and twice sat as M.P., for Truro: 1818-1820 and 1826-9. When Wellington became commander-in-chief on the death of the Duke of York, in 1827, Lord FitzRoy Somerset, who had become a major-general in 1825, was made military secretary at the horse guards; a post he held for twenty-five years. On the death of the Duke of Wellington in 1852 he became master-general of the ordnance, and about the same time was made a privy councillor and was raised to the peerage, as Baron Raglan of Raglan 12 October, 1852. When the Crimean War broke out Lord Raglan was selected to command the British troops. He left London on 10 April, was made field-marshal on 5 November. He continued in command until his death from dysentery, 28 June, 1855. His body was embalmed, brought to England, and buried at Badminton, 26 July. Since the eldest son of Lord Raglan had died of wounds received at the battle of Ferozeshah in 1845 the 2nd son, Richard, succeeded as the 2nd Lord Raglan. This nobleman, on receiving Cefn-tilla from The Crown, set to work to transform what had been allowed to become a mere farmhouse surrounded by farm buildings into a residence suitable for this position. The house was entirely renovated on the old lines.
The mansion of Cefn-tilla is situated in a singularly low position, with the ground rising on all sides around it. The style of the house before it was altered by the 2nd Lord Raglan can be seen by the accompanying view. On the left is the hall, now converted into the dining room, over the fireplace of which, carved in stone, is a quartered shield of HERBERT, with a helmet and mantling, but no crest; and on each side of the shield is a figure in armour, under each of which is the date 1616. The shield is: 1, Per pale az. and gu. three lions ramp. arg. (Herbert); 2, Arg., on a cross gu. five mullets or (Bleddyn Broadspear); 3, per pale az. and sa. three fleurs de lys or (Ynyr, King of Gwent); 4, Sa., on a chevron between three bucks' heads cabossed arg., as many bugles stringed of the first (Huntley); 5, Chequy or and sa., on a fesse gu. three leopards' heads jessant de lys or (Wallis).
Lord Raglan made the place what it is; gardens and pleasure grounds now occupy the former site of farm buildings and, by pulling down many hedges, a park has been made, through which runs a carriage road from Llandenny: formerly land enclosed by hedges leading to the farm of Glan-Olwy. From here, another carriage road has been made to the Usk road at Gwernesney. (nb.Pedigree of the family of Oates of Cefn-tyle and Jones of Buckland)
(Source, Bradney, Hundreds of Raglan (Llandenny) 1904)